Doing Business in Mexico

A Guide to Doing Business in Mexico

Caitlin Nicholson

Mexico is a country with great culture and history. In fact, Mexico ranks first in the Americas in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Key industries in Mexico include automotive, crude oil, energy, mining, agriculture, livestock and tourism. In fact, Mexico is one of the most-visited countries in the world. Whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in Mexico or simply looking to reach Mexican customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting a Mexican Audience.

Languages Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world with over 114 million native speakers (over 92 percent of the total population). There are over six million speakers of indigenous languages there as well. Like the United States, Mexico does not have a de jure official language. However, Spanish is the dominant language and is used in legislation. For most businesses looking to attract Mexico-based customers the first language for translating content should be Spanish. Spanish as a whole is a very regional language. Regional differences in vocabulary are present in all variants of Spanish. When translating content, particularly marketing content, be careful of using colloquial expressions. What is appropriate for Spanish speakers in Spain may not be appropriate for Spanish speakers in Mexico. Mexican Spanish has also been influenced by Nahuatl and Mixtec languages, particularly with place names. Nahuatl words such as avocado and coyote have even made their way into English.   Currency Mexico’s currency is the Mexican peso. It is the most-traded currency from Latin America and third in the Americas after the US Dollar and the Canadian dollar. Historically, from 2004-2015, the value of the peso was 11.3 -14.45 per 1 US dollar, according to Ernst & Young. If you are looking to fully localize your website’s global eCommerce experience, then you will need to convert currency to Pesos. Currency will need to be converted properly. The peso uses the symbol $. Like the United States, Mexico uses the “.” as a decimal mark and a comma as a separator. This tends to be the pattern for Spanish-speaking countries in Central America, which is reversed in most of South America.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? Mexico’s middle class comprises about 45% of their population, a number that continues to grow. Over three quarters of the population live in urban areas. Major urban centers include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Tijuana, and Ciudad Juarez. As the population becomes wealthier, so with the growth of consumer purchasing power. Mexico is currently Latin America’s second largest eCommerce market. Their growth is predicted to increase with a large population under 30, lower costs for smartphones, greater smart phone usage, and increased broadband and internet penetration. Advertisements in Mexico must be presented in Spanish, but you can also include expressions in other languages. There is no text message (SMS) marketing in Mexico due to a lack of data infrastructure, and email marketing is not very effective, according to research from Santander.   Business Culture Mexicans value personal relationships. Family is the most important institution. It is important to secure friendships with the businesspeople you wish to work with. Mexicans are very sociable and warm, so expect at least a handshake. They also have a closer concept of personal space. Be sure to address someone by their professional title and surname. Only use the first name when invited to do so. The biggest meal of the day in Mexico is lunch, served between 2 pm and 4 pm. Expect any business lunches to last for about two to three hours. Lunch is a time to help establish and further business and personal relationships. Dinner is served much later, around 8 pm or 9 pm. Normal business hours are 9 am to 7 pm. Eye contact is not valued like it is in the United States. Too much direct eye contact can be seen as too aggressive for a man and flirtatious for a woman. For more help in connecting with the Mexican market, get in touch with Lingualinx.

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